The Arizona Wildcats suffered arguably the worst loss in program history, falling 21-19 at home to NAU on Saturday night. It was their 15th straight setback, extending the longest active skid in FBS.
Our recap can be found here. Below are coach Jedd Fisch’s postgame comments, both in text and video form.
On the overall performance: “A very disheartening game out there tonight. Had a chance at the end, obviously, to tie the game up, and then a couple of 2-point plays and didn’t execute what we wanted to get done there on that final 2-point play. Disappointed in the outcome. Appreciate the players’ fight, and they certainly did that.”
On the defense: “Our defense did a good job of getting a lot of stops tonight. The defense should have had a shutout in the first half. They had all the momentum. Our defense, they were taking the ball away three different times, three different series. They were getting stops. Our defense was playing with great passion.”
On the two targeting penalties on NAU’s go-ahead drive: “We had a couple of penalties that cost us, and those are really hard penalties. The Mo Diallo play, I mean, I don’t know, I guess he got his helmet there and that caused the targeting. That’s a hard one. Jaxen Turner’s playing free safety, there’s a dig route, he comes in, he’s got to get lower, and that cost us. But those guys played with great effort. Jaxen played unbelievable tonight. He was all over the field. He was totally committed to having a great game, as was Mo. I think our defense did a lot of good things tonight. Obviously we have to get stops in the second half. And we’ve got to be better. We can’t turn the ball over. That led to a touchdown, and then they drove the ball on us, and that led to a touchdown, and both of those were critical.”
On turning it over three times: “We can’t turn the ball over three different times, one was for a touchdown. One was a comeback, or a corner route that we left inside on a bootleg on first down. Cannot do that. We just had to make a (quarterback) change at that point in time. Credit to NAU, they came in here and they battled, they had a good plan. They did a lot of good things, they stayed with it, they made a great play on an interception with a 1:48 (left) in the first half that ended up resulting in a touchdown when we’re up 13-0. And that really hurts. That really hurts.”
On not capitalizing off takeaways: “Defensively, we got three takeaways off of NAU’s offense, the ball was on the ground two other times, and we didn’t nearly make enough points from those takeaways. I think we only got a field goal from those takeaways. Very disappointing.”
On how the players are doing: “Our players are hurting right now. We got a very upset locker room. We got guys that are really, really upset. We let NAU celebrate. We got our work cut out for us and we got to get back to work immediately.”
On what is not working on offense: “We have situations in the game that we have to do better at. We have to understand down and distance better, we have to understand field position better, we have to understand when to take shots, when not to take shots, when to take sacks, when not to take sacks. Obviously the turnovers are just brutal. When to take a chance, when not to take a chance. There’s so much learning that has to occur, and we have to try to fast forward the learning. We have to figure out a way to keep, keep pushing it so we understand it better and we keep building off of what we’re trying to get done. Yeah, we had some good drives this game, we had some opportunities, but when we turn the tape on, I think we’re all going to be very frustrated on the opportunity that we missed, and that was really hard.
“I’m obviously very disappointed in all aspects of the game, run game being one of them, pass game being one of them, scoring. We can’t keep getting close and not scoring. We just got to find a way to be better at all phases, coaching, playing, at every part of it. And we’ve got to just make that emphasis to get better, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go out there tomorrow, and we’re going to get it right, and then we’re going to give them Monday off, and then we’re going to prepare for Oregon Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday get on a plane and go play a football game.”
On the quarterback situation: “There were some plays that Will (Plummer) made that were good plays. But the biggest thing for the quarterback position is, until we can start understanding what we’re trying to get done on each play call that’s going to cause us a lot of consternation and a lot of change, and that’s what I’m going to talk to all three of those guys about. The first play that Jordan (McCloud) went in, it was a bootleg to the right and he ended up to the left 12 yards away and took a sack. And next thing it’s 2nd and 20. With Will, it’s 3rd and 18 with 34 seconds left in the half and we’re running a post and an in cut and we have a chance to throw the post that we throw the in cut for six yards. We have to understand what we’re trying to get done here. We have to have a better idea on (the) play callers’ purpose so we can take some of these shots when they present themselves. We’ve got to do a better job with helping these guys out. We’re going to do a better job with them. We also understand there’s a lot of experience that’s lacking in that position room. You’re talking about freshmen, you’re talking about redshirt freshmen, you’re talking about Jordan who just arrived, and we’ve got to do a good job of trying to expedite them. But we’ve got to play games and when you play games against defenses that do some things a little bit different, you’ve got to find a way to be able to handle that. And that’s what I was talking about in regards to knowing all the situations and knowing what’s going on in the games, and we’ve got to do a better job there.”
On if he’s going to consider giving Jordan McCloud the majority of reps in practice this week: “I’m tempted, but I want to make sure I watch the film. It’s a very frustrating situation, you know, being in this quarterback derby. You don’t want to get to the point where it’s like, well, how do you ever get into that rhythm? But with that being said, we also have to (think) maybe some experience could help, playing games, starting games could help. But also, maybe it’s time to just continue to build off of gaining experience. So we’ll look at the tape on Sunday and then make that decision.”
On his message to fans who are frustrated with the lack of progress: “So are we. We’re very disappointed with the loss. We don’t accept losing. We are not in this, working as hard as we work, to lose. And we have to be better, and we’re working to be better. And we’re sitting here right now in a situation where we’re trying to build this thing. We need to kind of come up with some wins, and we need to compete, and we need to keep battling. We had a chance there to tie this game up, but we’ve got to also stay the course, and we also have to understand that we’re in a situation here where we’re trying to build something special for the long haul, and it’s not to build it for one night, it’s to build it for the entire time that we’re all together, and that’s going to be for a very long time to try to get this thing right. But doing that we’re going to go through some bumps and bruises early on.”
On if this wipes away all the goodwill built during the offseason: “I don’t think treating people right should be affected by whether or not we were able to come out with the outcome we wanted. I hope that reaching out to our community and reaching out to our former players and to our alumni and bringing back some of the great ones that were out here affects we’re trying to get accomplished. We are in year one, game three of a 12-game season. Trying to build something over time here, and with that being said, yeah, of course we’re always gonna be frustrated when the outcome is not what we want it to be, but we also recognize that we’re going to try to see the forest through the trees and not get caught up in one game.”
On why Trevon Mason didn’t play: “He was coming back from an injury that I didn’t know if he’d be ready or not. I thought he would be, but he’ll be good to go for next week. He got dinged in the last game.”